Now's not the time for Obama to quit smoking: Puff away Mr. President
It's an old puzzle. Whom would you rather vote for: a womanizer, an alcoholic or a non-smoking, teetotaling vegetarian?
Did you choose candidate number three? Congratulations, you just elected Hitler over Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill. I know, I know, it's an unfair comparison. My point is that vices don't make people bad and abstaining doesn't make people good.
So let's all step back and stop worrying about the president's smoking habit. It's not like it's been a slow news week, with the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, the ratification of the New START treaty and the passage of the Zadroga 9/11 responders bill, but press secretary Robert Gates' assertion that he hasn't seen the President smoke in nine months still made headlines.
If quitting outright has been a personal goal of Obama's, that's great. But if he's given up the habit because he got tired of the issue sending the press corps into a tizzy, well that's just dumb.
Obama has a tough job. Two wars, a struggling economy, recalcitrant Republicans in power, yada yada yada. If anyone deserves to bum a smoke every now and then, it's the president.
I'm not saying he should go out and pose for billboards as the Marlboro man or anything — he's still a role model.
But an occasional (not regular, no nicotine joneses please) smoking habit would be better than presidential drinking, with no loss of cognitive ability or nasty hangover should an emergency crop up. It doesn't take the time, effort or number of lies that gambling or fooling around entails. And considering that the number one cause of death in America is now obesity — an issue the Obamas have confronted head on — one could even argue that smoking is slightly better than giving into an unhealthy diet.
Obviously Obama would be healthiest if he never smoke, drank, ate hamburgers, bit his nails, cursed or slept less than eight hours. But if you're looking for a leader like that, you may have to find religion.
Until then, give Obama a break. A cigarette break.